Showing posts from March, 2020

Insistently Local and Personal

Since we are all in the business of re-imagining life as we know it, I think it is also a good idea to reclaim those things we are supposed to be about anyway. To this end, the words of Eugene Peterson in "The Jesus Way" have stirred me this week. Here is a flavor, at length. "The local congregation is the place and community for listening to and obeying Christ's commands, for inviting people to consider and respond to Jesus' invitation, "Follow me," a place and community for worshiping God. It is the place and community where we are baptized into a Trinitarian identity and go on to mature "to the measure of the full stature of Christ" (Eph. 4:13), where we can be taught the Scriptures and learn to discern the ways that we follow Jesus, the Way. "The local congregation is the primary place for dealing with the particulars and people we live with. As created and sustained by the Holy Spirit, it is insistently local and personal... A Christ

Hunting for Resiliency

In the States we have merely two weeks under our belts of "stay at home" orders as we watch the COVID-19 pandemic spread. It begins by showing up places we have been, then it reaches people we know. Fear, grief, uncertainty are all the order of the day. Striking among it all is the lack of resiliency in our systems and even our own lives. One author mentioned it on a recent podcast and I have been contemplating it since the fateful Friday a couple of weeks ago when schools closed and our lives were set for change. Restaurants, always run on the slimmest of margins, are devastated. More than 3 million people applied for unemployment in the first week alone. The sky has fallen on the economy and our health systems warn of overwhelming. Nothing is resilient. And I don't say this thinking I have everyone bettered, I too live from paycheck to paycheck with little margin. I get the uncertainty, the fear of the unknown. Perhaps, given the lack of resiliency, what we need is not

The Riches of His Glory

We are all extroverts now... At least we are longing for connection. For other people (no offense immediate family). For the regular interaction that life is meant to afford. Digital connection is nice, hearing voices, seeing faces. But the hug of a friend. The presence of a colleague. It will come again, but we don't know how long. I feel this ache as a pastor. Watching our little church interact online yesterday was an encouragement but I also long to be with these people. Present. Reliable. And in that longing is a prayer that they would experience something better than my presence. Something tangible and eternal. That all of us would be transformed in the midst of isolation. To that end I join Paul as he prays in Ephesians 3. "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ

Music Will Get Us Through

Some of the most encouraging sights coming out of this pandemic are the videos of people in Europe singing to each other, playing instruments, and using music to get through isolation. As I have watched many of them I can't help but think how important music will be for us in the coming weeks. Music calms us, excites us, it communicates where speech comes up short. It can remind us where our hope is found. It is central to our existence and it will get us through. While Europe has balconies, in the States we have backyards. So crank the music (at appropriate hours mind you!) Sing to your neighbors, serenade the streets. We will get through this together and our soundtrack is vitally important. Go ahead and add a comment to let us know what your current jam is!

Putting Pen to Paper

When we were all setting New Year's resolutions none of us thought we would be here. Living through a pandemic, schools closed, churches live-streaming, the CDC saying we shouldn't gather in groups over 50. It is a challenging time. But all necessary if we can flatten the curve of those sick with COVID-19 and the overwhelming of our medical systems. So what should we do? Well lots of things, but first let me encourage you to journal each day through this pandemic. The days will begin to get interesting and for posterity sake it would be nice to have a record of what you experienced. But also, you are going to need to process everything that is happening and what you are feeling. Describe the things you read or hear throughout the day. What it is like having the kids home. How much toilet paper you have in reserve. Whatever comes to mind and needs to be on the page. Studies indicate journaling, just the art of putting pen to paper to describe the day and what you have been think

Worth Reading: The Possibility of Prayer

John Starke's latest offering, The Possibility of Prayer , is already in my shortlist for best book of the year for followers of Jesus. It comes at an appropriate time - there is demand for understanding rhythms of life lived in response to Jesus and an increasing pull toward spiritual direction - and it serves the needs of the church. The book is clear and never drags on. In fact I felt invited further in with each chapter. Starke shares his own experience but not as one who has it all figured out but one on the same journey as you, leaning into life of contemplation and prayer. This book actually does better in my opinion than the recent tranche of books on hurry and slowing down. Starke rightly orients the desires to solve those things with the gospel and a life in response to it. There is abundant grace on these pages and whether you count yourself as a prayer warrior or prayer novice, this is for you and will enrich you in your walk. Here are some choice quotes from the book :